Things to know when taking your pet rabbit to the vet

Transport your bunny in a plastic carrier. This is more practical and hygienic than a wicker basket, the rabbit cage with bedding or carrying the rabbit on your arm. Leave the bedding at home and put a towel in the carrier instead. The towel can also be put on the vet’s examination table as it is often quite smooth and cold. The towel makes the rabbit feel more secure and reduces the stress involved in the examination. Never starve your rabbit before an operation or examination as regular bowel movement is essential for the little bunnies (they eat up to 80 times a day). Separate sick animals from their peers to reduce the risk of infection. Meticulous hygiene procedures are essential. Replace the small patient’s bedding frequently and clean the cage and toys with a disinfectant. Indoor animals also should receive regular vaccinations to prevent infections transmitted by mosquito bites etc. You should take your pet rabbit to the vet if the animal is showing any symptoms of intestinal problems to which rabbits are prone. The next day may already be too late if the animal was weak.

Spring time is vaccination time for rabbits. The pet needs its shots to be protected from viral diseases.

While spring time is a time of hope and renewed energy for people, it is a time of great danger for rabbits. This is the time of epidemics and pet rabbits are at great risk of catching a viral disease which is in many cases lethal. There is only one thing to do: Get them vaccinated! Two diseases in particular are the greatest threat to a well cared for rabbit:


The first signs of myxomatosis are puffy, fluid swellings around the head and face. ‘Sleepy eyes’ are a classic sign along with swollen lips, tiny swellings on the insides of the ear and respiratory problems. These swellings can become so severe as to cause blindness. This mostly lethal disease is spread by blood sucking insects, in particular mosquitoes, rabbit fleas, ticks, lice, stable flies and mites. There is a risk of spreading the disease from a sick animal to a healthy one. Exercise caution when visiting wild rabbits in a petting zoo or anywhere else. The virus can also be spread by humans after handling a sick animal.


The symptoms of this disease, also called Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, may include high fever, spasms and noose bleeding followed by a swift and sudden death. VHD is spread by air-borne droplets and direct contact with VHD infected rabbits or persons and objects contaminated by the virus (clothes, hands, shoes) as well as blood sucking insects. There are vaccines available for both diseases which can have a mortality rate of 80 to 100%. It is therefore imperative to vaccinate all your rabbits against these two diseases regardless if you have just one pet rabbit or breed them as a hobby. It also does not matter whether you keep the rabbits indoors or outdoors; all rabbits are at risk of infection. The VHD vaccination should be renewed annually while myxomatosis vaccinations should be given twice yearly. Make sure your rabbit gets a myxomatosis booster in the autumn. Both vaccinations can be combined in one shot provided the rabbit is healthy. The efficacy of vaccinations can be affected by parasite infestations or covert bacterial infections. Older rabbits many not produce enough antibodies to develop full immunity. Vaccination of chronically ill rabbits may cause their general state of health to deteriorate even further. Always consult your vet before allowing your rabbits to be vaccinated.

Call into your local store today to discuss your small animals personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts